viernes, 27 de agosto de 2004

The Tax Burden on Cross-Border Investment: Company Strategies and Country Responses

The Tax Burden on Cross-Border Investment: Company Strategies and Country Responses

Harry Grubert (U.S. Treasury Department and CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research) published this paper on June 2003 at CESifo Working Paper Series No. 964

Here is the Abstract:

We look at the tax burden on direct investment from three perspectives. The first section illustrates how the recognition of company tax planning and of the importance of intellectual property affects measures of effective tax rates. It also discusses the methodological issues that arise, such as to which subsidiary the benefits of a multicountry strategy should be attributed. The simulations emphasize the importance of the share of royalties in crossborder income, and of tax planning strategies such as the shifting of debt to high-tax locations. At the same time, evidence on actual company behavior is necessary to limit the range of possible tax avoidance strategies. Otherwise, the effective tax burden on cross-border investment would virtually disappear. Even then, the range of possible estimates is large. The simulations also show how home governments can respond to some types of tax planning by, for example, requiring that parent interest expense be allocated to foreign income. The second section supplements the hypothetical calculations by evaluating the determinants of the actual effective tax rate on overall U.S. manufacturing investment abroad. Among the various components are the location of assets, the location of debt, other forms of income shifting, the share of royalties, and home government repatriation taxes. The results are generally consistent with the simulations in the first section. Somewhat surprisingly, real assets seem more mobile than tax bases, confirming the constraints on tax avoidance.

The first two sections demonstrate that it is not the more "obvious" features of a tax system, such as whether foreign dividends are taxed or exempt, that are important, but provisions that govern the taxation of royalties, the use of tax haven finance subsidiaries, and the allocation of parent interest expenses to foreign income. The third section introduces host government behavior to see how they tax different types of companies. As expected, they seem to favor more mobile companies and those that offer benefits to local factors such as labor. Companies that sell a large share of their output offshore receive concessions while those that import a great deal of their components are penalized, presumably because of the positive and negative impacts on country terms of trade. Subsidiaries of R&D intensive companies pay higher effective tax rates, suggesting rent extraction by the host government.

Available at SSRN:

lunes, 7 de junio de 2004

International Tax Planning in the Age of Ict

Christoph Spengel (Centre for European Economic Research) and Anne Schäfer (Centre for European Economic Research) published the ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 04-027

entitled "International Tax Planning in the Age of Ict"

Abstract: The increased use of information and communication technologies (ICT) leads to new ways of doing business internationally. Nowadays, firm-specific intangible assets as well as services often constitute the most important factors for the creation of value. Besides, geographic distances tend to be less relevant. The main objective of international tax planning consists of minimising the effective tax rate of the whole company or group. In this paper, it is examined for several instruments of international tax planning whether new chances of minimising the effective tax rate emerge with the use of ICT and to what extent new risks occur.

The analysis comprises the (re)location of a company's residence, the (re)allocation of functions and risks, the implementation of a transfer pricing system, the choice of the form and location of investments abroad as well as hybrid forms of co-operation. For each instrument, both current and non-current tax issues are considered. We conclude that, due to ICT, it is easier to make use of the international tax differential by choosing the optimal location and form of investment and by allocating functions and risks. Thus, companies can pay more attention to the tax-optimal choice between international locations and the importance of this instrument to reduce the effective tax rate is further strengthened by the use of ICT.

Available at SSRN: or DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.552061

lunes, 19 de abril de 2004

Lowering the Taxation Learning Curve: the Case of Latvia

Lesica, George. "Lowering the Taxation Learning Curve in Transition Economies: the Case of Latvia" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois, Apr 15, 2004

Abstract: After Latvia achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 its government faced the monumental task of overhauling not only an antiquated political system
but an obsolete economic system as well. Part of reforming the economic
system meant instituting a tax policy that was friendly to and
compatible with private enterprise. This task was accomplished based
primarily on Western European standards and values. A social welfare
system was put in place and taxes were set to reflect expenditures of
the government keeping in mind the balanced budget demands of the
European Union and International Monetary Fund. Despite the adoption of
Western European practices, tax evasion and the so-called shadow
economy remained far more prevalent than in the West due to the use of
so-called envelope payments. This situation in Latvia and other
developing economies stifled growth and government services and made a
balanced budget extremely difficult and somewhat painful.

When tax rates are too high companies understand that they cannot
afford to do business if they are forced to pay all taxes associated
with their activities. This leads them to use the system of envelope
payments and other means to avoid taxes on certain transactions in
order to bring their tax burdens under control. This creates a
sub-optimal equilibrium as firms cannot abandon the practice of evasion
as long as their competitors do not, even if they can economically
afford to do so.

Lower tax rates, whether in the form of VAT, income, or other taxes
could serve as an economic incentive for companies to forgo offering or
accepting envelope payments by making the costs of evasion higher than
the costs of paying taxes. This would serve to increase the percentage
of transactions that are taxed and would allow time for both economic
and social factors to take hold and make tax-paying an accepted part of

In this paper I argue that tax evasion in transition economies can be
reduced by instituting lower tax rates initially and scheduling
increases based on the rate of decrease in the country’s shadow economy
as measured by the International Monetary Fund. I accomplish this by
developing a formula for calculating a tax level at which an economic
incentive can be created to establish a tax-paying equilibrium. My
formula makes use of economic indicators combined with tax levels,
levels of government spending and IMF data on shadow